Pixel Scroll 9/18/19 Scrolls Move In Mysterious Ways Their Pixels To Perform

(1) BLOGGER BLOWS AWAY SHORT SFF REVIEW SITE. Jason McGregor of Featured Futures just announced he is going to quit promoting and reviewing short sff and has gone so far as to delete hundreds of posts from his site: “The Incredible Shrinking Blog”.

…I was discouraged from rushing back to do reviews by the John W. Campbell business. In many ways (especially socioeconomic) I’m a pretty liberal guy, but I have next to no patience with “political correctness” or historical “revisionism” or any number of the other manifestations of “theory” prevalent these days. This has always been a drag on my enjoyment of current SF and contributed to the burnout I was feeling which led to my falling behind in March, but I felt like I was ready to get back on the horse…. And while I was doing that, we got the Awards Formerly Known As Campbell. While the attack was vulgar and ignorant, it was also irrelevant to short SF. However, people who are relevant to short SF and should know better have not only failed to be voices of reason but have added to the unreason. It just underscores that I signed up to read a body of literature with a significant emphasis on creative ideas and positive visions of futures with technologically and rationally advanced natures and what I’ve been reading is mostly a subgenre of LGB,eTc. fiction[2] which is populated by Orwellian erasers of the giants whose shoulders they stand upon insofar as they are SF at all (or Wile E. Coyotes sawing off the limb they sit on). The great Katherine MacLean died recently. One guess as to who published her first story in 1949….

As a lover of the unpopular field of print science fiction and the even less popular field of short SF, I made the promotion of contemporary short SF the purpose of this blog, only to have to admit that short SF has become unpopular for very good reasons and I now wish to do anything but promote it.

(2) KEEP ON CYBERTRUCKING. AL.com profiles a band with a sff-writing friend: “Drive-By Truckers bringing new music to Mobile, Decatur”.

…Capturing the sheer tumult of the times, rather than being washed away by it, is an artistic challenge that spans genres. In this case there’s a positive: It has become common ground in a slightly surreal online friendship played out on Twitter, featuring Hood and novelist William Gibson. On one side you have a band known for its obsession with the ways that the South’s history taints its present; on the other you have the futurist who coined the term “cyberspace” and revolutionized science fiction with his 1984 novel “Neuromancer.”

What most people don’t realize, Hood said, is that Gibson has Southern roots as well, having grown up in Virginia before moving to Canada during the Vietnam era….

(3) HUGO WRANGLER. Ian Moore resumes his Dublin 2019 report in “An Irish Worldcon, Part 4: Sunday” at Secret Panda.

I also had the terrifying experience in the afternoon of being summoned to meet James Bacon, the chair of Worldcon. I assumed that word about The Incident had finally percolated up to him and I was about to be removed from the Convention Centre with extreme prejudice. But before I could launch into an unconvincing attempt to explain myself, James revealed that he was actually presenting me with a Hero medal in recognition of my work for Worldcon both before and during the convention. This was something of a surprise and I was truly honoured to receive the medal, which I wore with pride for the rest of the convention.

(4) A FEW BRIEF EDITORIAL REMARKS. If you want to know Eric Flint’s opinion of the Electoral College, he’ll be happy to share it with you. Well, happy wouldn’t be the right word, exactly: “Concerning the Electoral College, or the Twaddle Had Finally Gotten To Me”.

THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE, about which historical ignorance, incapacity to reason, blindness to reality driven by ideology and just plain stupidity have produced an ocean of twaddle.

It should be blindingly obvious by now that the Electoral College is at best an antiquated institution which never matched the vision of it held by the Founding Fathers and has become an impediment to modern government. In times past, the reason most people shrugged off its grotesque features was because in practice it didn’t seem to make much difference. In the first two centuries of the nation’s existence, a candidate won the Electoral College while losing the so-called “popular vote” only three times (in 1824, 1876 and 1888). But it has happened twice in the past five elections (2000 and 2016), so now it has become a major topic of debate….

(5) GRAEME GIBSON OBIT. Writer and conservationist Graeme Gibson, Margaret Atwood’s partner, has died at the age of 85 reports the CBC.

Margaret Atwood, Gibson’s longtime partner, said in a statement Wednesday issued by publisher Penguin Random House Canada: “We are devastated by the loss of Graeme, our beloved father, grandfather and spouse, but we are happy that he achieved the kind of swift exit he wanted and avoided the decline into further dementia that he feared.

“He had a lovely last few weeks, and he went out on a high, surrounded by love, friendship and appreciation. We are grateful for his wise, ethical and committed life.”

Gibson died Wednesday in London, England, where he had accompanied Atwood for the global release of her latest book.

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • September 18, 1951 The Day The Earth Stood Still had its theatrical premiere in New York City. Klaatu was played by Michael Rennie. 
  • September 18, 2002The Twilight Zone, 3rd version, premiered on TV.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 18, 1884 Gertrude Barrows Bennett. She’s been called a pioneering author of genre fiction. She wrote a number of fantasies between in the late teens and early twenties, and has been called “the woman who invented dark fantasy”. Her short story, “The Curious Experience of Thomas Dunbar” which was published under G.M. Barrows in Argosy is considered first time that an American female writer published SF story using her real name. I’m pleased to say that both iBooks and Kindle are heavily stocked with her works. (Died 1948.)
  • Born September 18, 1888 Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur. He is known primarily for his scholarly work on Beowulf and his translation of Snorri Sturluson’s Prose Edda for The American-Scandinavian Foundation, but also as a writer of pulp fiction having written The Altar of the Legion (with Farnham Bishop), He Rules Who Can and one short genre story, “The Golden Story”, though iBooks has The Adventures of Faidit and Cercamon for sale which may or may not be genre. (Died 1971.)
  • Born September 18, 1944 Veronica Carlson, 75. She’s best remembered for her roles in Hammer horror films. Among them are Dracula Has Risen from the GraveFrankenstein Must Be Destroyed and The Horror of Frankenstein. She also shows up in Casino Royale as an uncredited blonde.
  • Born September 18, 1947 Paul Seed, 72. Actor who’s now a director. He’s made the Birthday Honors list as he was Graff Vynda-K in “The Ribos Operation”, a Fourth Doctor story. That and an appearance on Tales of The Unexpected appear to be his only acting roles in the genre. 
  • Born September 18, 1948 Lynn Abbey, 71. She’s best known for co-creating and co-editing with Robert Lynn Asprin (to whom she was married for awhile) the Thieves’ World series of shared-setting anthologies. (Now complete in twelve volumes.) Her Sanctuary novel set in the Thieves’ World universe is quite excellent. I’ve not kept up with her later work, so y’all will not to tell me how it is.
  • Born September 18, 1949 William Stout, 70. Illustrator who’s worked on projects as diverse as Manning’s Tarzan of the Apes strip, Ralph Bakshi’s Wizards, Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder’s Little Annie Fanny in Playboy and  Raiders of the Lost Ark.
  • Born September 18 Michael R. Nelson. Conrunner from the Baltiwash area who got into fandom in 1989. He chaired Disclave 41, Capclave 2002 and co-chaired the DC17 Worldcon bid. He is a member of the Washington Science Fiction Association.
  • Born September 18, 1955 Gary Russell, 64. As a writer, he is best known for his work in connection with Doctor Who and its spin-offs in other media. He worked for BBC Wales as a Script Editor on The Sarah Jane Adventures and Torchwood. (Anyone here who’s watched the former series?) as a writer, he’s written nineteen Doctor Who universe novels and directed forty audioworks for Big Finish, one of which he wrote.
  • Born September 18, 1973 James Marsden, 46. He was Scott Summers / Cyclops in the X-Men film franchise. He was gunslinger Teddy Flood, an android in Westworld. He plays Tom Wachowski in the forthcoming Sonic the Hedgehog film
  • Born September 18, 1984 Caitlin Kittredge, 35. Wiki say she’s best known for her Nocturne City series of adult novels, and for The Iron Codex, a series of YA novels, but I think her best work is by far the Black London series. She’s also writing the current Witchblade series at Image Comics. 

(8) COMICS SECTION.

(9) THE ROADS MUST ROLL. Kotaku says it all adds up to a new world record: “Truck Carrying Gaming Dice Spills Onto Highway, Rolls A Perfect 756,000”.

On Friday, September 13, a truck bound for the Georgia-based tabletop and video game company Trivium Studios took a turn too sharply, spilling 216,000 gaming dice onto Interstate 75 in Atlanta in what could be the biggest unintentional dice roll ever.

(10) MARK YOUR CALENDARS. Tomorrow is Talk Like a Pirate Day. I guess I jumped the gun by running my “Aaaarrrrgggghhhh!” post today.

(11) OVERDUE RETURN. It used to be part of the decoration outside the Los Angeles Public Library, until someone liberated it: “Piece of missing sculpture resurfaces in antiques store 50 years later”.

Lillard said a recent hunt for clues on Google brought him an old photo from a California newspaper showing the Well of Scribes, a sculpture that disappeared in 1969 from the Central Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library.

“You could only see half of the well in the picture,” Lillard said. “That’s the half that I had.”

Lillard’s portion is one of three pieces that composed the entire sculpture. He said he has been in contact with the Los Angeles Public Library about bringing the sculpture home.

The final two pieces of the sculpture are still missing, but Lillard said he has hope they might still be found.

(12) POE FAN. S.D. Sykes, in “Why We Will Always Love ‘The Masque of the Red Death'” on CrimeReads, explains why she thinks Poe’s great story is “a beautiful and classic work” and “a gothic masterpiece.”

Whether you see Poe’s story as a reflection on mortality, or rather a tale of morality, it’s also important to remember that Poe himself was famously averse to didacticism in literature—so perhaps we should simply read the story for its own beauty and not try to imbue it with meaning? And “The Masque of the Red Death” is, indeed, a beautiful and classic work. A gothic masterpiece. The guests retire to “the deep seclusion” of a “castellated abbey.” The prince’s designs for the masquerade ball glow “with barbaric lustre”—being “grotesque” as they “glitter” with “piquancy and phantasm.” The story throbs with “something of the terrible” as the atmosphere of dread builds. Until, in true gothic style, we have the tragic ending, where all die in a “despairing posture.”

(13) BUT ARE THE JOKES CLEAN TOO? “The robot that cleans floors and tells jokes” – video.

More than 100 fully autonomous cleaning robots are coming to Singapore this year, made by local manufacturer Lionsbot.

Ella tells jokes as she cleans the floor in the island nation’s National Gallery… but not everyone is convinced.

(14) AREA CODE. Arby’s is still trying to tap into some of that free social media publicity: “Arby’s Declassifies ‘Storm Area 51’ Special Menu Items” reports Food & Wine.

…Arby’s, for one, has not given up on the dream. In July, the chain showed its support for the viral cause by announcing that it would bring a special menu of Arby’s items to feed whoever was in attendance at Area 51’s storming. And today, not only did Arby’s confirm that it’ll still be there, but also announced what those otherworldly new items would be.

… The “Redacted on Rye Sandwich” is billed as “roasted turkey on a toasted marble rye bread with Swiss cheese, tangy slaw and thousand island dressing,” a further spin on the classic Reuben. The “E.T. Slider” will feature “a crispy chicken tender dipped in Bronco Berry Sauce.” “Arby’s Frying Objects” will be “Arby’s loaded curly fries topped with savory moon rocks.” And finally, the “Galaxy Shake” is described as a “purple cow meets a Sour Patch Kid—a blue sweet milkshake base that turns pink and tarter as you drink or stir it, topped with a fruit crunch.”

(15) 30-50 FERAL COOKIES. Meanwhile, John King Tarpinian has sighted the Halloween Oreos in the field…

(16) WINDUP UP YOUR WATCHMEN. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Everything begins 10/20 on HBO,

[Thanks to Nancy Sauer, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, John A Arkansawyer, Cat Eldridge, Greg Hullender, Martin Morse Wooster, Darrah Chavey, StephenfromOttawa, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories.  Title credit goes to File 770’s contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]

65 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 9/18/19 Scrolls Move In Mysterious Ways Their Pixels To Perform

  1. Birthday nitpick: the Fourth Doctor story in question was titled “The Ribos Operation”, not “Affair”.

  2. 7) I also agree that the Black London series is Caitlin Kittredge’s best work and am sad that it never got the wider recognition it would have deserved. Though Nocturne City was pretty good as well.

    As for the Sarah Jane Adventures, they were perfectly fine as a Doctor Who related series focussed on younger viewers, though I never enjoyed them as much as I enjoyed Doctor Who and Torchwood back in the day. I sometimes showed the Sarah Jane Adventures to 5th and 6th grade English students, who loved them, probably because they were the target audience.

  3. If there’s one thing I can’t abide, it’s “theory”. Theory without the quotation marks is just fine.

  4. @Madame Hardy
    “Political correctness” – with the quotes – is a red flag in itself. So is the idea that taking a name off an award (or removing a statue) is somehow erasing the person from history.

  5. He worked for BBC Wales as a Script Editor on The Sarah Jane Adventures and Torchwood. (Anyone here who’s watched the former series?

    I thought the Sarah Jane Adventures were great, and I wish that Lis Sladen had survived in order to make more of them.

  6. @1: self-righteous much? Makes me glad I didn’t waste time on his ex-site.

    @13: the sample joke is clean-but-dumb — and somebody should have told the programmer that laughing at your own joke is dumber.

  7. 1) I haven’t got the slightest idea who Jason McGregor is, but my inclination is to say ‘Don’t let the door hit you in the ass.’

  8. (1) Bummer. Short SF is a favorite field of mine, how I got into SF actually, and I hate to see a prolific reviewer exit.

  9. (1) And nothing of value was lost…

    (14) I wonder if Arby’s has talked to their lawyers about the possible fallout from encouraging people to break the law and take on armed soldiers…

  10. 1) Think how it would have sounded to just say “I’ve been doing this for a long time and don’t really care for where today’s writing is going so I’ve decided to step down.”
    Instead of “you’re all too PC so I’m going to delete all my reviews and that’ll show you!!”.

    Funny how the other day the explanation for AO3 was that there wasn’t any LGBTQXYZ representation so they had to write it for themselves and this guy is leaving because he’s tired of all the LGBTQXYZ writing.

  11. @Harold —

    Funny how the other day the explanation for AO3 was that there wasn’t any LGBTQXYZ representation so they had to write it for themselves and this guy is leaving because he’s tired of all the LGBTQXYZ writing.

    The existence of AO3 and its predecessors is a significant part of the reason why we have so much LGBT representation in published sff today. Don’t sell that community short — it does a lot for the genre, and plenty of the published sff writers who are getting popular now cut their teeth writing fanfic there.

  12. 1) I’m not seeing how the (ex-) Campbell is “irrelevant to short SF” when some finalists ( Vina Jie-Min Prasad, for example, last year) got nominated on the strength of their short fiction… but whatever. If this guy wants to pick up his ball and go home, I’m sure the rest.of us will soldier on without him.

  13. A quick glance at the Astounding Award Wikipedia page makers me think about 40% of recent winners did so on the strength of short fiction.

  14. (1) What is it about the reactionary wing that makes them insist that actually talking about the messy bits of history is “Orwellian erasure”? Self-awareness clearly not a strong suit.

    (4) It’s not often I find myself agreeing with Eric Flint!

  15. (4) I think it will be a shock to many of us in the United Kingdom that we are a republic.
    I have always thought that the people who spaff on about ‘not a democracy, it’s a republic’ have learnt most of their political theory from playing Sid Meir Civilisation games.

  16. 1) Erasing history to protest the erasure of history. That’ll show ’em! Next, shoot yourself in the foot to protest gun violence.

  17. @Joe: I can see things to disagree with Eric Flint on (in addition to him including constitutional monarchies in the category of republics). The electoral college gives a disproportionate number of votes to smaller states, and with the current Republican dominance in the smaller states of the interior west introduces a bias in favour of the Republicans. Saying that voters in non-swing states are disenfranchised is hyperbole – you could as well say that voters in any safe congressional seat are also disenfranchised; but there is a genuine issue that the need to pander to swing states has an effect on policy choices to the potential detriment of other states. (Getting a lower exposure to dishonest political advertising is a feature, not a bug.) I am unconvinced of the inevitability that in the long run the electoral college will favour the Democrats – for that to be the case the Democrats would have to systematically win large states by small margins, and lose small states by large margins. Perhaps if Florida and Texas went safely blue.

  18. 4
    In the context of a dispute concerning the Electoral College, the phrase “this is a republic, not a democracy” is simply asinine. OF COURSE, the United States is a republic. EVERY democratic polity above a certain (very small) size has to be a republic because the scale of modern societies is far too large to be governed by direct democracy.

    This phrase, along with the the “AR doesn’t stand for Assault rifle!” folks really get under my skin.

  19. I loved the Sarah Jane Adventures as the gentler, friendlier version of Doctor Who. And of course Elisabeth Sladen was lovely and it was great to see her and I’m so sorry she died.

    (I thought of the Sarah Jane Adventures as to Doctor Who the way Doctor Who was to Torchwood. They formed a sort of scale from gentle scary to grimmer darker scary and more adult to so grimdark and so adult I couldn’t take it after a while.)

    1) Seems foolish to destroy an archive of hard work, but whatever. One would think there is still plenty of neo-Campbellian short fic around to review if the reviewer prefers it to more enlightened fare.

  20. @ P J Evans

    I always translate “political correctness” as “I enjoy being rude.”

    Also, if it ain’t blue dick, it ain’t Dr. Manhattan.

  21. @Stewart (and others on #4): yes, Flint’s arguments are wrong; it’s that I agree with his conclusions that surprises me! That he appears to think that “republic” is synonymous with “representative democracy” is obviously silly. And I agree that this argument that the overrepresentation of smaller states in the electoral college doesn’t have an effect on US politics is simplistic. But I was surprised to find him advocating abolishing the EC at all!

  22. Paul Weimer:

    “OF COURSE, the United States is a republic. EVERY democratic polity above a certain (very small) size has to be a republic because the scale of modern societies is far too large to be governed by direct democracy.”

    This is a very strange comment. Having a monarch does in no way imply that the person has any power or is involved in governing.

    Sweden is a Monarchy and our king is the head of state, but that mostly means that he has to cut ribbons and is forced to endure incredibly boring ceremonies.

  23. (1) We were very sorry to see Jason go. He read very broadly, covered some magazines Rocket Stack Rank doesn’t cover, and he wrote thoughtful reviews about all the original fiction in them.

    I’m most concerned about his claim that SFF has become a subgenre of LGBT fiction. I don’t think that’s accurate, but I want to do some analysis and respond with numbers.

  24. @Greg Hullender:

    I would be very interested to see your analysis.

    The Pixel Scroll item itself seems peculiar. Not that a reviewer may feel burned out – I can understand and even sympathize with that – but rather the reasons given for the burnout.

  25. @Greg: “I’m most concerned about his claim that SFF has become a subgenre of LGBT fiction.”

    So what if it has?

  26. @Greg Hullender

    I’m most concerned about his claim that SFF has become a subgenre of LGBT fiction. I don’t think that’s accurate, but I want to do some analysis and respond with numbers.

    Given that I’ve so frequently seen people say that minority representation is “taking over” when what they mean is “more represented now so I have to look at it and think about it more often and that makes me Uncomfortable,” I suspect it means that he has been confronted with the presence of LGBT characters more often than he used to be.

    It’s amazing how often the type of people who put scare-quotes around the phrase politically correct take the leveling of the representation playing field as the previously-underrepresented “taking over.”

    Or, in other words, I Am Uncomfortable When Not About Me.

  27. @Jake:

    I read that as not concern that SFF (or short SFF, which unless I‘ve misread was that particular reviewer’s specialization) was become a subgenre of LGBTQ fiction, but rather concern that an inaccurate claim about it was being made.

    The interest expressed in analysis and numbers seemed to me to support this interpretation.

    I, for one, wouldn’t mind if SFF did become more influenced by LGBTQ literature, but then I like diversity and inclusiveness.

  28. @bill:

    I gather it’s a self-identification. Plenty of people enjoy dressing up for Halloween, parties, whatever, without considering themselves cosplayers. I had the impression identifying as a cosplayer is something people consciously take up.

  29. Greg Hullender: I’m most concerned about his claim that SFF has become a subgenre of LGBT fiction.

    I’m not seeing why there’s any need to be concerned, nor for any number-crunching. LGBTQ fiction can have as many subgenres as people find appealing to read. Westerns, Mysteries, SFF, Anime, Cooking, whatever, it’s all good. I’ll bet there’s LGBTQ fiction about car maintenance.

  30. Madame Hardy: I always translate “political correctness” as “I enjoy being rude.”

    Yep, yep, yep. When someone uses this phrase, for me it’s as if they’re wearing a big sign that says, “I have no credibility, feel free to ignore my opinions”.

  31. I think my favorite comment about “political correctness” is still Neil Gaiman’s. 🙂

    (From 2013, but every bit as fresh and insightful as the day he first posted it.)

  32. @Greg Hullender:
    I would be interested to see the figures and how they compare to those for the actual population. I suspect that the small cast size of most fiction has resulted in a measure of distortion with some groups over represented and others under represented.

  33. I’m also interested in the distribution over time.

    If there’s one thing that’s thunderingly clear reading any sff (or any genre, really) from before the last ten years, it’s that straight white cis men have been thunderingly OVERrepresented since forever.

  34. @Peace Is My Middle Name I can only go back 2 or 3 years, because that’s how long I’ve been categorizing protagonists’ identities. But that’ll be over 1,000 stories, so it should be statistically significant.

    Percentage of the general population is a tricky stat. What you really want is to know what the reading population wants. For example, Native Americans are just 2% of the US population, but I’m sure white readers would be happy to see them in 10% or more of all stories. (Particularly if they’re “own voices” stories and not just stories with tokens.) This amounts to wanting marketing research, which, of course, I won’t be able to get.

    However, the claim that SFF had become a subgenre of LGBT fiction implies that 100% of stories have an LGBT protagonist. Or, allowing for hyperbole, at least 50%. That’s easy to disprove. It’s under 15%, and half of that is stories with lesbian protagonists (who’re known to be popular with straight male readers). One can easily argue that the distribution probably reflects what the market actually wants.

    Anyway, I want to do a bit more analysis and write an article about it for Rocket Stack Rank, looking at subgroups and differences between magazines, but the high-order bit is that the evidence does not support the claim that there are too many LGBT protagonists in the main SFF magazines and anthologies.

  35. JJ on September 19, 2019 at 6:46 pm said:
    Madame Hardy: I always translate “political correctness” as “I enjoy being rude.”

    Yep, yep, yep. When someone uses this phrase, for me it’s as if they’re wearing a big sign that says, “I have no credibility, feel free to ignore my opinions”.

    I love the fact that the term “Political Correctness” started as an in-joke amongst leftists and Marxists in the 1960s. It was a self-depricating term, mostly used as a punch line to mock the Tankies. Usually phrases like “I’d like to go see the new Clint Eastwood movie, but that wouldn’t be politically correct,” it was a joke about how they were policing their own behaviour within the left.

    The right co-opted the term in the 1990s, because they heard those jokes and lacking a sense of humour, believed that this policing was going on.

  36. @Greg Hullender

    . . . stories with lesbian protagonists (who’re known to be popular with straight male readers).

    I’m reminded of the routine from the late comedian Bill Hicks: ” ‘Daddy’s New Roommate’ is disgusting, abhorrent and evil. ‘Heather Has Two Mommies’, on the other hand, is quite a fetching read. Look, they’re hugging on page 7, ooh, go mommies, go . . . “

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.